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Wrestling of Andres Lignitzer

The wrestling treatise attributed to Andres Lignitzer is in addition to the one by Master Ott Jud one of the premier texts on unarmed combat from the 15th century. As is the case with other mediaeval masters of fencing, wrestling, and other martial arts, we know next to nothing about Andres Lignitzer, not even the dates of his birth and death. Based on his last name we could assume that he originated from Legnica, presently a town in Poland. However, due to a lack of other sources, this assumption cannot be confirmed. Presumably, he lived within a time period between the second half of the 14th century and the first half of the 15th century.

The earliest of the preserved texts attributed to Andres Lignitzer originate from the Codex Danzig from 1452. Master Lignitzer most likely died before that time since the introduction to his treatise on armored fencing includes the phrase may God have mercy on his soul, usually added whenever the person in question is already deceased.

It is unknown where he taught during his life time and whom he served. But his renown must have been quite significant given the fact that his texts appear in more than a dozen fighting manuals from 15th and 16th centuries. In addition, Master Paulus Kal added him in his fechtbuch to the list of members of the Society of Lichtenauer. The list consists of the most influential Masters of Lichtenauer’s fighting tradition such as Sigmund Ringeck, Ott Jud and Martin Hundfeld, which strengthens Lignitzer’s position as one of the most significant fighting masters of the time even further. Next to his wrestling treatise, other texts attributed to him include treatises on armored fencing, sword and buckler and dagger combat.

The text on wrestling according to Lignitzer is preserved only in three fighting manuals: in the before mentioned Codex Danzig (Cod.44.A.8; Biblioteca dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana, Rim), in Glasgow Fechtbuch (MS_E. 1939.65.341, Glasgow museums, Glasgow) and in so called Goliath (MS Germ. Quart 2020; Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Krakov). Since the text from Danzig is the most thorough, this translation is based on it. However, I took into consideration the other two versions as well and explained the most significant differences in the footnotes.

Lignitzer’s wrestling treatise consists of 17 techniques, mostly followed by a counter or a counter technique. The techniques could roughly be divided in two parts: in the techniques carried out from an arm clinch (mostly with one arm on the outer and one arm on the inner side), and in the techniques carried out from a body clinch (mostly with one arm under and the other over). The techniques are varied, they range from armlocks, hip throws and leg throws to strikes against vital points. Many parallels to Lignitzer’s techniques can be found in contemporary literature, especially in Ott’s texts. The writer or transcriber of the copy in Goliath took notice of that as well, so he concluded Lignitzer’s seventh wrestling with the following words: ”davon vinstu im andern buch in maister Otten ringen auch” (this can be found in Master Ott’s wrestling treatise as well). However, Lignitzer also includes techniques found only in his manuals and supplements the others with important directives. This helps us get a better perspective of how European unarmed martial arts looked like in time when Middle Ages were coming to an end.

The translation is based on the transcription of Dierk Hagedorn to whom all of us HEMA practicioners are grateful for generously sharing his work via his group’s website hammaborg.com. The project wiktenauer.com aiming to gather all sources for the historical European martial arts in one place was very helpful as well. I would also like to thank Debora Pirnat for proof reading and Igor Sancin for tutoring and help with the translation.

Gregor Medvešek, june 2012





Hÿe heben sich an Maister Andres Lignitzers ringen

| Item das erst ringen hat er dich peÿ den armen gefast | vnd du In wider | So tracht das dw mit deiner rechten lincken hant Inwendig seins rechten arm~s pist | vnd mit deiner rechten hant auswendig seins dencken pist | Hat er dich denn loß | So greif vor mit deiner dencken hant auf sein dencke hant | vnd begreif yn pey den vingerñ | vnd prich die auf dein dencke seitten | So nÿmpstu ÿm das gewicht

Here begins the wrestling of Master Andres Lignitzer

The first wrestling – When you clinch up at the arms, make sure that your left hand is on the inside of his right arm and that your right hand is on the outside of his left arm. If he holds you loosely, reach with your left for his left arm, grab him by the fingers, and jerk them to your left side. This is how you break his balance.

Der pruch

| Wer dir das tu°t vnd dir nach den vingerñ greifft | So spring mit deine~ rechten pain fur sein rechte paide pain | vnd greif mit deiner rechten hant hinden umb seinen ruck | vnd würf In für dich auf dein dencke seitten ~

The counter

When someone does this to you and reaches for your fingers, spring with your right leg in front of both of his legs and reach with your right hand behind and around his back. Throw him in front of yourself to your left side.

Das ander ringen

| Hat er dich gefast peÿ den armen | vnd dw In wider als vor | So fal mit deinem rechtñ arm~ vber sein dencke hant | vnd kum mit deiner dencken hant deiner rechten zw hilff | vnd swing dich von ÿm auf dein dencke seitten ~

The second wrestling

When you clinch up at the arms, fall with your right arm over his left hand and help your right arm with your left hand. Turn away from him to your left side.

Das dritt stuck

| Hat er dich aber gefast als vor peÿ den armen | vnd dw In wider | So tracht daz die denck hant Inwendig seins rechten arm~s sey | vnd dein rechte auswendig seins dencken arm~s | So stos mit deiner rechtñ hant von vnden auf in sein dencke hant vber dein rechte achsel | vnd spring mit deine~ rechten pain fur sein denckes far mit deine~ rechten arm~ denn aussen vber sein dencken arm~ | vnd kum mit deiner dencken hant dem rechten arm~ zu° hilff | vnd swing dich von ÿm auf dein dencke seitten ~

The third technique

When you clinch up at the arms as before, make sure that your left hand is on the inside of his right arm and that your right hand is on the outside of his left arm. Strike his left hand from underneath with your right hand so that you have it on your right shoulder. Spring with your right leg in front of his left leg and wrap your right arm from the outside around his left arm. Help your right arm with your left hand and turn yourself away from him to your left side.

Der pruch

| Wer dir das tu°t | vnd dir deinen dencken arm~ vber sein hals getossen hat | So var mit deine~ dencken arm~ vber sein chopff für sein prust begreif in mit deiner dencken hant peÿ seinem dencken arm~ | vnd mit deiner rechten hant greif auswendig in sein rechte knÿepüg vber | vnd heb vber sich | vñ tauch oben auf dein dencke seitten | So wurfstu ÿn auf den ruck ~

The counter

When someone does this to you and pushes your left arm on his neck, slip your left arm over his head and in front of his chest. Grab his left arm with your left hand and reach behind his right knee from the outside with your right hand. Lift his knee joint up and push him down to your left side with your left arm. This is how you throw him on his back.

Das vierd ringen

| Var mit deine~ rechten arm~ aussen vber sein dencken | vnd greif mit deiner rechten hant für sein prust in sein rechte achsel | vnd spring mit deine~ rechten pain hinder sein dencks | vnd greif mit dein° deiner dencken hant Inwendig in sein dencke knÿepüg | vnd wurf in auf dein rechte seitten ~

The fourth wrestling

Go with your right arm from the outside over his left arm in front of his chest and grab him by his right shoulder. Spring with your right leg behind his left leg and grab him behind his left knee from the inside with your left hand. Throw him on your right side.

Der pruch

| Wer dir das tu°t so greif mit dein° rechtñ hant hinder sein rechte | vnd greif mit deiner dencken hant von vnden auff ym in sein rechten elpogen | So würfstu yn auf das maul ~

The counter

When someone does this do you, grab his right arm by the wrist with your right hand and his right elbow from bellow with your left hand. This is how you throw him on his mouth. [1]

Das fünfft ringen

| Var mit deine~ rechten arm~ von vnden auf Inwendig vber sein dencken arm~ | vnd druck In vast zw dir in dein rechte seitten | vnd spring mit deine~ dencken pain hinder sein dencks | vnd var mit deinem dencken arm~ Im vber die recht achsel vber sein hals | vnd würf in auf dein rechte seitten ~

The fifth wrestling

Go with your right arm outwards over his left arm from bellow and press him tightly to yourself on your right side. Spring with your left leg behind his left leg and go with your left arm over his right shoulder around his neck. Throw him to your right side.

Der wider pruch

| Wer dir das thu°et so ste freÿleich | vnd greif mit deiner rechten hant vber sein dencken arm~ für sein prüst im vnder das maul | vnd zeuch in fur dich vber dein dencks tiech auf dein rechte seitten

The counter

When someone does this to you, stand fast and grab him under his mouth with your right hand over his left arm and in front of his chest. Pull him in front of yourself over your left thigh to your right side.

Das sechst ringen

| Tracht das dein dencke hant aus wendig seins rechtens arm~s sei | vnd dein rechte hant Inwendig seins dencken arm~s | vñ var mit deiner rechten hant von vnden auf vnder sein rechten arm~ | vnd zwischen deins dencken arm~s | vnd heb vast vbersich auf dein rechte seitten | vnd nÿm im das gewicht das stuck get zw paiden seitten ~

The sixth wrestling

Make sure your left hand is on the outside of his right arm and your right hand is on the inside of his left arm. Reach with your right hand upwards under his right arm and between his right arm and your left arm. Lift your right hand up and move it to your right side in order to break his balance. It is possible to do this wrestling on both sides.

Der wider pruch

| Ring ym nach | vnd nÿm dw Im das gewicht

The counter

Wrestle him after and break his balance.

Das siben ringen

| Wenn er dich peÿ den armen gefast hat | So la dein rechte hant schleiffen | vnd begreif in mit deiner rechten hant hinder seiner dencken hant | vnd kum mit dein° dencken hant dein° rechten zw hilff | vnd hab vast | vnd gee durch sein arm~ auff dein rechte seitten | So gewinstu ÿm den ruck an ~

The seventh wrestling

When he has grabbed you by the arms, let your right hand slide and grab his left arm by the wrist with your right hand. Help your right hand with your left and hold firmly. Go through to your right side. This is how you win his back.

Der wider pruch

| Wer dir durch get so gee mit ÿm durch | vnd vall in ein ringen in welches du wild

The counter

When he goes through, go through with him and use whichever wrestling you see fit.

Das acht ringen

| Lass aber deinen arm~ schleiffen | vnd kum mit deiner dencken hant der rechten zw hilff | vnd gee durch auf dein dencke seitten ~

The eighth wrestling

Let your arm slide and help your right hand with your left. Go through to your left side.[2]

Der wider pruch

| Wer dir das tu°t vnd wil dir auf dein dencke seitten durch gen | So greif mit dein° rechten hant vber sein dencken elpogen | vnd ruck vast an dich | So wurfstu In auf den ruck ~

The counter

When someone does this to you and wants to go through to your[3] left side, grab him above his left elbow with your right hand and pull him to yourself. This is how you throw him on his back.

Das Newnt ringen

| Lass aber dein rechte hant an seine~ denckñ arm~ schleiffen | vnd kum mit deiner dencken deiner rechten zw hilff | vnd wendt dich von ÿm auf dein dencke seittñ | vnd zeuch ÿm den arm~ vber dein rechte achsel

The ninth wrestling

Let your right hand slide on his left arm. Help your right hand with your left and turn away from him to your[4] left side. Pull his arm over your right shoulder.[5]

Das zehent ringen

| Wenn dw In hast peÿ dem arm~ gefast das dein dencke hant Inwendig seins rechtñ arm~s ist | vnd dein rechte auswendig seins dencken | So var mit deiner dencken hant für seine prust vnder sein kinpacken | vnd in sein dencke achsel | vnd greif mit deiner rechten hant auswendig in sein dencke knÿepüg | vnd würf in auff dein dencke seitten | Das stuck get zw paidñ seitten

The tenth wrestling

When you have grabbed him by the arms so that your left hand is on the inside of his right arm and your right hand is on the outside of his left arm, reach with your left hand in front of his chest under his jaw to his left shoulder. Grab him behind his left knee from the outside with your right hand and throw him to your left side. This is possible on both sides.

Der wider pruch

| Wenn er dir das tu°t | So nÿm ÿm das gewicht ~

The counter

When he does this to you, break his balance.

Das xj Ringen

| Hat er dich gefast das sein paide arm~ vnden sein | So begreif mit deiner rechten hant ÿm hinden an seinen dencken arspacken | vnd mit der dencken hant zwischen encker paider prust vnder sein kinpacken | Stos oben vast von dir | vnd zeuch vnden an dich | So wurfstu In an den ruck ~

The eleventh wrestling

If he has grabbed you so that both of his arms are under your arms, grab him behind by his left butt cheek with your right hand.[6] Grab him under his jaw with your left hand, so that your left arm is between your and his chest. Push him away above and pull him to yourself below, so that you throw him on his back.

Der widerpruch

| Wer dir das tu°t so la dein rechte hant varñ | vnd halt mit dein° dencken hant fast ÿn peÿ dem ruck | vnd spring mit deinem dencken pain für In | vnd würf In auf dein rechte seitten ~

The counter

When he does this to you, let go with your right hand and hold him firmly by his back with your left hand. Spring with your left leg in front of him and throw him to your right side.

Mer ein pruch auf das vorgenãt stuck

| Wenn einer paide arm~ vnden hat | So var mit paiden daumen von vnden auf vnder seinen kinpacken | oder hinder den oren so prichstu dich von Im ~

Another counter to the previous wrestling (i.e. against a hold with both arms under)

When he has both of his arms under, go with both of your thumbs from bellow under his jaw or behind his ears.[7] This is how you break free from his hold.

Das xij ringen

| Mit geleichem vassen hat er dich geleich gefast | vnd dw in wider so tracht das dein dencker arm~ vber seinem rechten seÿ | vñ dein rechter vnder seine~ dencken | so schreit mit deine~ rechten pain auswendig | vnd ruck mit deine~ dencken arm~ vast sein dencken arm~ zw° dir | vnd kum mit deinem rechten arm~ deine~ dencken zw hilff | vnd würf In vber die hüf das stuck get zw paiden seitten ~

The twelfth wrestling

When you are in a neutral clinch position and you both have the same grips, make sure that your left arm is over his right arm and that your right arm is under[8] his left arm. Step with your right leg  outwards[9] and pull his left arm with your left arm to yourself. Help your left arm with your right arm and throw him over your hip.[10] This is possible on both sides.

Das xiij ringen

| Hat er dich aber gefast das dein rechte hant vnden ist | vnd dein dencke oben | So greif mit deiner dencken hant an sein dencken hals | vnd begreif in mit deiner rechten hant an seiner dencken seitten peÿ der joppen | vnd druck oben an dem hals von dir gegen der erden | vnd heb vnden ein wenig auf | So trit mit deine~ denckñ pain hindersich | vnd swing dich denn auf dein lincke seitten ~

The thirteenth wrestling

When he has grabbed you so that your right hand is under and your left arm is over, grab him with your left hand by the left side of his neck and with your right hand by his jacket on his left side. Push his neck away from yourself towards the ground from above and lift him up a bit from bellow. Step with your left leg back and turn to your left side.[11]

Das viertzehent stuck

| Hat er dich gefast mit geleichem fassen das Dein rechter arm~ auswendig seins dencken ist | vnd dein dencker vnder seinem rechten | So zuck dein dencken arm~ aus seinem rechten vchsen | vnd druck mit dem rechten arm~ Im sein dencken vast zw° dir | vnd far mit deiner dencken hant Im vnder den hals | vnd swing dich denn von ym auf dein dencke seitten | Das stuck get zw° paiden seitten ~

The fourteenth wrestling

When he has grabbed you and you are in a neutral position with your right arm on the outside of his left arm and your left arm under his right arm, pull your left arm from his right armpit. Press his left arm to yourself with your right arm and go with your left hand under his neck. Turn yourself from him to your left side. This is possible on both sides.

Das fünftzehent ringen

| Hat er dich gefast mit geleichem fassen das dein rechter arm~ oben ist | vnd dein dencker vnden | So zuck aber den denckñ arm~ vnd greif mit dein° dencken hant Im vber sein dencke achsel vmb sein hals | vnd kum denn vnden deiner rechten hant zw hilf | vnd druck ÿn vast vnder sich | vñ fal auf dein hinderñ | vnd würf In vber dich | Das get auch zu° paiden seitten ~

The fifteenth wrestling

When he has grabbed you and you are in a neutral position so that your[12] right arm is over and your left arm is under, pull your left arm and grab him with your left hand above his shoulder around his neck.  Reach to help your right hand bellow and press him down. Fall on your buttocks and throw him over yourself. This one is also possible on both sides.

Das sechtzehent ringen

| So er dich hat peÿ den armen | vnd dw yn wider so tracht das dein rechte hant Inwendig seins dencken arm~s seÿ | vnd dein dencke hant auswendig seins rechten arm~s | So lass dein dencke hant auf seine~ rechten arm~ schleiffen | vnd greiff do mit hinder sein rechte hant yn pey dem arm~ | vnd deñ mit deiner rechten hant von vnden auf vnder sein rechts vchsen | vnd spring mit deine~ rechten pain hinder sein dencks | vnd druck mit deiner dencken hant vber sich | vnd zeuch mit dein° rechten hant an dich auf dein rechte seittñ

The sixteenth wrestling

When you clinch up at the arms, make sure that your right hand is on the inside of his left arm and that your left hand is on the outside of his right arm. Let your left hand slide on his right arm and grab him with it by his right wrist. Grab under his right shoulder from bellow with your right hand and spring with your right leg behind his left. Press with your left hand above yourself and pull with your right hand to your right side.

Das sibentzehent ringen

| Tracht das dein paide arm~ vnden sein | vñ greif den mit deiner rechten hant Im zwischen seine paide pain | vnd fass yn hinden peÿ der ioppen | vnd mit der dencken hant var von vnden auf an sein prust | vnd heb vnden fast auf | vnd stos vnden von dir so feltt er ~

The seventeenth wrestling

Make sure both of your arms are under his arms. Reach with your right hand between his legs, grab him behind by his jacket and go with your left hand from bellow to his chest. Lift up with your left hand and push away from yourself with your right hand so that he falls.

Der wider pruch

| Wer dir das tu°t | So versleüß mit deinen paiden armen im sein rechten arm~ | vnd heb vber sich | So mag er dich nicht gewerffen ~

The counter

When someone does this to you, lock up his right arm with both of your arms and lift up. He will be unable to throw you.


[1] There is a further piece of instruction in Goliath: ”Pull your left leg far back”

[2] The instructions in Goliath are more precise: ”Go through to your left side under his left armpit while holding his left arm.

[3] his (in Goliath)

[4] his (in the Glasgow Fechtbuch)

[5] Goliath additionally decribes a counter to the ninth wrestling: so er dich also fast so schlag mit deinr lincken hannt ime vorn umb den leib, von hintn yber sein linckß agsl unnd schwing dich auf sein od dein linckh setin indeß magstu mit deinem lincke vueß fur sein linckn tretn, unnd in also werfn- If he has grabbed you in this manner, strike him with your left hand from the front around his body and above his left shoulder from behind. Turn yourself to his or your left side and during that turn step with your left foot in front of his left foot and throw him.

[6] Goliath’s description is a bit different: ” Strike out with your right hand and grab his right butt cheek.

[7] The Glasgow Fechtbuch has another suggestion:”… or into his eyes”

[8] over (in the Glasgow Fechtbuch)

[9] The instructions in Goliath are clearer: ”Step with your right leg outside behind his right leg…”

[10] Goliath goes in more detail here: ”…turn to your left side and throw him over your right hip.”

[11] Goliath has a further suggestion: ”You can also step with your right thigh to his left thigh during the turn and throw him.”

[12] his (in Glasgow Fechtbuch)